A's lock up catcher Kurt Suzuki through 2013

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The A’s on Friday signed popular catcher Kurt Suzuki to a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $16.25 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
The new deal replaces the one-year, $420,000 contract Suzuki signed prior to 2010. He would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time in the offseason. Now all three of his arbitration years are spoken for, and there’s a vesting option for 2014, his first year of free agency, that could make the deal worth $25 million-$26 million.
It seems like a pretty high price for the A’s to pay considering Suzuki’s modest numbers. He did drive in 88 runs last year, but he’s not going to match that number this season after spending time on the DL in May with a strained intercostal muscle. He finished with OPSs of 716 and 734 in his two full seasons, and he’s at 724 at the moment.
That only scratches the surface of Suzuki’s value to the team, though. While he did miss time this season, he was among the major league leaders in catching 141 games in 2008 and 135 in 2009. He’s regarded as an above average defender, particularly when it comes to calling games. And, at age 26, he figures to remain a very solid player for the duration of the deal.
So, he’s quite likely to be worth his salaries under the terms of the extension. Whether he would have done better in arbitration is another matter. Given his unspectacular batting averages and home run totals, he certainly wasn’t going to break the bank, and the A’s might have been able to save some money by going year to year with him.
However, that’s not a risk they were willing to take. At least this does settle the matter of whether Suzuki will be traded. He was frequently asked about, though never offered around, and now that he’s locked up, his name figures to go absent from the rumor mill for at least the next year and a half.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.